Friday, November 13, 2015

Why Video Games were Not Art

I always thought that computer games were a form of Art. Today, I learned why I was wrong.

First, let's start with a definition of "Art" that is mostly "That which is shown in museums and galleries and whatnot." Statues are shown in museums and galleries, therefore statues are art. Paintings, sculpture, movies, songs. Note these are all forms, rather than specific things.

So, why aren't computer games Art? Because, in a nutshell, Museums couldn't exhibit them, without fear of prosecution from the rabid armies of copyright lawyers engaged by the industry to protect their products.

That's it. QED.

It didn't matter how many soulful designers cried that they were doing more than just extracting quarters by addicting teenagers to blinky lights; they were being shivved in the back by their own legal departments, who enjoyed wielding the power of the precious DMCA.

If video games were Art, or were recognized to have cultural significance, then they would have status beyond that of mere "product" and society at large would have a different relationship, with more rights of re-use. Can't have that.

I didn't realize a lot of the internals, before I read the excellent article:
Understanding this years biggest video game copyright ruling at Gamasutra.

The good news, since the US Copyright Court (ugh, from the "why is this even a thing" category) has now said that Museums can show off old games without fear, there might one day be an exhibit of 'classic games' at your local museum, as perhaps should have been possible all along?!

Sometimes you only notice how bad the stupid got when it takes a step back. And you think "good start, and another please?"

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